A bill to give homeless shelters a two-year sales tax exemption passed the Idaho House today by a vote of 70-0.
Durst, during testimony in previous hearings on the bill, said that many shelters are suffering as the economy remains in the rebound stages. He said that many shelters provide a way for citizens to receive help without being a burden on taxpayers. Durst urged lawmakers to help Idahoans still hurting from the struggling economy.
“We’ve got people who are hurting, who are losing their homes and losing their jobs and they are going to rely on faith-based programs for services,” said Durst.
The bill, if passed by the Senate, will cause the state to lose approximately $15,000 a year in sales tax revenue for the two years it would be enacted, a cost Durst believes is minimal and shouldn't prohibit passage of the legislation by the Senate.
“If a $15,000 fiscal note is the scapegoat for killing a bill, then that’s fine … but I certainly don’t believe in a budget that’s over $2 billion that $15,000 is an impediment,” Durst said.
Durst noted that shelters are doing more and help to reduce demand for state-supplied services by providing a myriad of programs for the lowliest of citizens. Shelters now help citizens by providing education programs, as well as some treatment for drug and alcohol addictions among other things, Durst added.
"The homeless shelters of the 21st century are not the homeless shelters of the past," said Durst.